Wednesday, October 26, 2011

sexy walrus

some people think it's weird that i didn't grow up celebrating halloween. i don't come from some crazy religious fanatic family either. not that those are the only types of families that don't celebrate halloween. but you can imagine most might be. when i was little my church did the whole dress up like an animal for noah's ark deal and that was fun enough. it wasn't until about 4th or 5th grade that i had a real problem with it. and honestly, i just wanted the candy. in 4th grade we were allowed to dress up for school only, which consisted of scrubs my mom got from working as a nurse. not very original. i do, however, remember a girl in my class getting in front of the class telling us she was a hooker. dead serious. see this is why we didn't celebrate it. :) by fall of my 5th grade year we wore our parents down enough to let us go trick-or-treating. i was a's pjs and flannel shirt. they'd let us go but they were not going to spend any money on it. i remember going through our neighborhood collecting candy. and i remember hoarding that candy for weeks and months.

charis is barely 2 and we are planning to take her out. but i have to admit the whole thing is weird to me. so i'm going with a friend and her kids. i just love the idea of dressing up. and right now while charis is little i get to choose her costumes. i am not looking forward to the day when she wants to pick her own and all she will have to choose from is something slutty or sexy. we've all seen those costumes. at some point they go from innocent kid friendly full coverage costume to something mini and revealing. I just read this post from an 11-year old girl that is pretty amazing.

of course this topic is on my mind a and culture. part of it is because of how i'm wired and a lot of it is because of what i'm living through right now. my prayer for charis is that she will look to Jesus and not our culture for her identity. that in my own struggles and brokenness i can point her to her Creator to hear truth.

i'm not sure how this went from halloween to beauty. wait, yes i am. it's just how things go in my head. here is a little preview of my sweet & sassy walrus for monday. i'll let you know how it goes.

Friday, October 21, 2011

dear dss,

i know i dissed you pretty hardcore in my earlier post. i'm sure you'd like to hear me say i'm going to take it back, but i'm not. i think you still deserve the criticism and could improve in some or rather many areas. i'm just saying...

but i do need to thank you for getting back to me so very quickly. i was ready to wait the standard 45 days. i really was. so when i saw the envelope in my mail stack with a mecklenburg county return address i wasn't sure what it could be. surely it couldn't be your decision about whether or not we got approved for charis' medicaid. no, couldn't be. i mean, technically, it's only been 6 days. i know 6! i can hardly believe it myself. when i opened up the letter i skipped through all the nonsense just to see the words i wanted to see..."The application for MEDICAID INFANT/CHILDREN for Charis Patwa is approved." Yay! Yippee! I'm so excited!! My previously uninsured baby girl is now insured!!! i mean, i knew we would be eligible. i'm so glad. in fact, i immediately made her appointment for her 2 year well check up.

so, thank you dss and my vague caseworker whose name is just a strand of letters and has a generic phone number. thank you. i'm serious. i probably won't be back to visit you any time soon though.
your friend,

Sunday, October 16, 2011

23 months

(this is our last "monthly" post, but we'll have lots ahead as she will keep being awesome and i'll want to share)
OH EM GEE homegirl is a mess and we are Looooooooooooving every bit of it. i'm sure i keep saying the same thing again and again, but she is for real a BUH-LAST! it's as if she has busted out of her shell. well, not that she's been in a shell. it's just that all of a sudden she is jabbering and full of toddler-type energy. we are constantly looking at each other in amazement at her. she is keeping us busy as we approach her 2nd birthday. yeah, i know! she's going to be 2! how crazy is that?! i'm constantly overwhelmed with this fact. anyway...i'm trying to be consistent and all that stuff. sometimes though it's hard. is she too young for us to screw her up? i'm thinking we'll keep the Barnabas Center in business for a while.

- so, she is a talker. lately she'll say anything (which means someone needs to watch what she says) we say. stringing together words into sentences ("i want mommy read book."), trying out new and bigger words, and sticking with short demands like, "water!" or "NO!" or "more!" which is great. NOT!

- she's discovered the alphabet. i think it started with one of her books..she loves to read. then all of a sudden she was sing-songing "now i know my..." which is so stinking cute. she loves the ABC song and will say "ABCD" whenever she sees letters. it's a totally new discovery for her and so fun to watch.

checking out the animals at the zoo

- she walked, i mean strolled, in another Race for the Cure with TEAM PATWA. and she was amazing! the walk was about 1 1/2 hours and we even went to an after party, which she had so much fun at. she was rocking her own pink uni in honor of her mama!

- she and Adam went to Louisiana together. they flew there for the weekend so Adam could hang out with some guys for some bachelor time. she was a trooper on her first plane trip. and she got to go to the ZOO for the first time where she said, "hi elephant" which adam caught on camera and was so cute. she also got to spend some great time with her paw paw and maw maw. adam also took her to the lakefront in Mandeville, which is one of our favorite places.

at the Mandeville lakefront

this is adam's cousin, Mo, i love the way she is looking at him

- she loves to bed, on the potty, in the car, everywhere. it's fun now because she's recognizing books and saying words that actually match up. i am obsessed with watching her learn!

reading on the potty...that's how we roll

- she wakes up yelling my name lately. it's kinda hilarious and annoying to hear her hollering "Amy! Amy!" within minutes of waking. she trips me out. recently she said, "Amy, where are you?" out.of.control.

- she loves being outside and now that the weather is awesome, we are trying to get out more...going on walks mostly. i love the FAll. LOVE IT. and i think she does too. i mean, who doesn't love some fresh air and sunshine!?

we are staying busy...hence why this post is so late. if i could freeze things right now, i would. now, i know 3 is fun and so is 4 and it just keeps getting better. for me, though, i love right now. partly because i don't spend too much time looking ahead, i'm trying to enjoy today. and i am. i sometimes miss when she was in my tummy and we were anticipating her, or when she was itty bitty new. but, i love everything about this little lady who cuddles with me in her "new bed" and gives hugs and says, "hi luuuuv you." don't worry, she still whines and cries and challenges the heck out of me. i guess i'm trying to enjoy that too. i'm so thankful God gave me this chance to be her mama. so thankful.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

a day in the life

let's be honest, it's rare for 2 of my days to look the same. but it can happen. today it was another day with my friends over at DSS. for those of you not familiar with the acronym, that is the department of social services. look, i'm not trying to bash the government, but let's be honest, whoever has a good, even okay, experience at most governmental-type agencies?

this was my 4th time there. the first time i went was to apply for Food & Nutrition Benefits (aka food stamps). it opens at 8am. a line forms outside as early at 7am. here is how it works: you come with your specific application and upon arrival need to fill out what is called a "household form" then wait in one of the 10 or so lines that can be 3-8 people deep. when you get to the person at the window they "greet" you with a "how can i help you?" and you give them your paperwork and stand in silence while they tap on a keyboard and jot notes in the margins of the paper. then they hand you a pager (like you get at a restaurant) and tell you to have a seat and when the pager goes off to head to the vending machines at the end of the hall. the waiting room fills up and the lines overflow as the morning progresses.
1st visit: i wait in the area for 3 hours with nothing. i didn't bring a book. and there is no one to ask questions. if a worker is walking by they don't make eye contact with you and therefore it's not inviting to ask, "um, excuse me, but i've been here for 3 hours. and, well, you see this is my first time here. the lady told me to wait and my pager would go off and it hasn't. i've seen people come and go, but i'm still waiting. i understand that everyone is here for something different, so maybe i just have to wait. but, you see, i have a doctor's appt to go to in concord, otherwise i would keep waiting. can you help me?" yeah, so that never happened. the only way to ask where i was in the "queue" was to get back in line which was now about 10 people deep each. so, on the verge of tears i left. i called adam and cried. i was so frustrated. i think i'm pretty resourceful and kinda smart enough to be prepared. but nothing can prepare you for this.
2nd visit: after my 3 hour debacle i went back armed and ready. well, not really. i showed up earlier this time, like 7:30a so i could go straight to the front. i had my household form ready and was one of the first in the waiting room. it's called a waiting room for a reason. you wait. i mean i got paged after about an hour and had a fairly pleasant "interview" with a caseworker. they call it an interview but it's basically a caseworker filling out some info and scanning your documents into the computer. then after about 10 minutes you are done. they give you a date (about 30-45 days away) that you should hear whether you are approved or not. and that's it.
3rd visit: the day after our family benefits ended (with COBRA i had to drop adam & charis) i wanted to get charis signed up for Health Choice (ie medicaid) as soon as possible. i knew i could only stay for an hour and a half so when i got to the window i asked how long she thought it would be for me to get an interview. she said at least 2 hours, but i could leave my application and they will process it without an interview and contact me within 30-45 days if they need more information. great, i thought. i handed over my application and in good faith trusted "they" would contact me. who was i kidding?
4th visit: today marks the 43rd day and i never heard from them. figures. so, i got online to see what forms/info i needed and headed over by 7:30. i was about 10th in line and i had all my forms so when the doors opened i could go straight to the window. look, i get that these folks see a lot a people and get asked lots of questions, but is it really that hard to squeeze out a smile first thing in the morning?! i explained that i had come last month but hadn't heard anything. no comment. literally. she just took my form and began tapping away and scribbling notes. but i was the first to get my pager and head to the waiting room. i had all my forms and 3 hours to devote. i waited a little over an hour before i got paged. my lovely caseworker greeted me at the door by the vending machines. i followed her to her desk and we began the "interview." at some point i asked about that other application and she said she saw no evidence of another application in the system. she told me i would get something in the mail on or "just before" 11/27 letting me know if we've been approved or not. that's 45 days. another 45 days to wait. i was out of there by 9:30a, which was great, but i was frustrated that i trusted them and didn't go back sooner.

i know lots of kids go without healthcare and that is fine. but i'd rather not. i know that it's out there and if we are eligible, which i'm sure we are, then i want to take advantage of the help available to get my baby girl some healthcare. i just wish the system didn't suck so bad. i have to admit that i'm pretty ashamed of the thoughts i had while waiting in that waiting room. the first time i was extremely judgemental. then i realized i was there too and needed the help. i'm not necessarily planning to go back, but if i do i will be ready.

so, there you go. a day in the life of me going to DSS. but it's all for a good reason...

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

a little bit of syd

i was "surfing the net" recently and found this video. first i saw a picture of this girl and she reminded me of my friend, sydney. so then i watched her TED video (i'm still not clear on what TED is). sydney had the funnest wardrobe. if i was her size i would have borrowed lots of stuff. she wore lots of color and funky styles and looked great in anything polyester. she wasn't afraid to wear something crazy, like those long shorts that looked like a skirt. and she could definitely accessorize. she made most of her jewelry and it was pretty rad. we both had a love of thrift shops. one of our first "dates" was at the salvation army. i always see something she would love when i'm at a thrift store. i think sydney would have liked this jessi girl. i do.

Jessi Arrington: Wearing nothing new | Video on

Thursday, October 6, 2011

an end of an era...

i know that i've talked about Young Life many times on here. it's because YL has been a part of my life for a long time. once i experienced it in high school at windy gap in the summer of 1994 i knew i wanted to be a part of this ministry for the rest of my life. and i have had the opportunity to do just that for the past 17 years.
in high school i got involved my junior year after this trip to windy gap. i saw YL as a great opportunity to grow in my faith and reach out to my friends. i got to go to frontier in colorado with a cabin full of girls that i still call friends today. i was loved by a leader who is still my friend.
in college it took me a few years to become a leader. after spending a month on summer staff in 1999 i knew i had to lead and become a part of a community like the one i experienced for that month. later that year i met with the area director in cabarrus county and by january i was signed up to lead at northwest cabarrus. i remember that first club vividly as they introduced me as the new leader. i remember the girls i met first as they squealed with excitement to be at club. i remember the group of leaders that i got to become friends with. i spent 2 1/2 more years leading in cabarrus county. and i knew i wanted to go on staff with YL after college. i'm still friends with one of those squealing girls and another girl that we had campaigners at her house often. they both had a heart for their friends. now they are both married. it's fun to get to see them still. i'm still friends with the area director i met with all those years ago and a handful of the leaders i was fortunate to lead beside. those were some of my favorite years. i think in college i was a great leader. :)

"my girls" from Northwest Cabarrus @ Windy Gap

in 2002 i went on staff with YL in louisiana where i spent 2 years leading either solo or with 1 or 2 other leaders. our clubs weren't huge in numbers, but they were fun. we had a couple guys playing music and some pretty faithful kids that made it all worth it. those 2 years were a time of growing and stretching for me. i met one of my closest friends, laura, who i spent a lot of time with exploring the city of new orleans and talking about God, life and ministry. i also lived with a couple amazing families who loved me like their own and totally believed in what i was doing. ministry was hard, but i made some pretty amazing friends along the way and I know God was at work. i also met my husband as i "moonlighted" at Outback Steakhouse. he started out as my "movie star crush" and eventually became my husband. after my two years in louisiana, i moved back to Charlotte.

me and Adam at the STC carnival

2 of my girls in LA...Lauren and Maribeth

my soul sista, Laura

i took some time off from YL staff and a break from leading for a year. in 2005 a friend asked me to go to frontier with a group of girls from myers park. you did not have to twist my arm. after a year of leading at MP i went back on staff with YL and became a leader at Country Day. for a girl who grew up on the "other side of the tracks" and graduated from West Charlotte, leading at Country Day was a new and surprising experience. i loved every bit of it. i discovered leading at a private school was unique and we needed to make some programatic adjustments. but high school kids are the same everywhere. so, the core of the ministry...building relationships with high school kids and telling them about Jesus...was the same, sometimes it just looked different. in the past 5+ years i have had the amazing opportunity to get to know many high school kids and become friends with some great girls who i hope to know for many years to come. God has given me the opportunity to share my life with them in unique ways. i've gotten to know siblings and parents too. i feel like i was totally embraced by them. i'm sure they weren't crazy about their kids hanging out with the leader with a nose ring, but i think they knew my heart.
about 6 weeks ago i began feeling God doing something in my heart in regards to YL. let's be honest, the past year or so has been tough, but kid ministry for me has been wonderful and unique as i've walked through cancer and being laid-off. my summer with kids was incredible as i began to let them into what was going on. i got to experience God's grace and love along the way. and at the end of the day, i love high school kids. love them. but i was feeling overwhelmed and lonely with YL. i was trying to blame other things, but i think God was calling me away from leading YL. and i resisted. i wanted to prove i could lead YL as a volunteer and with cancer. adam helped me see just how prideful and sinful this was. i struggled for a few weeks as i figured things out. then through a conversation with my own YL leader and pastor, God made it clear it was time for me to step down. i was hoping he'd make it easy on me, like if i didn't like high school kids anymore. but he didn't. he did however, give me the greatest peace ever. it was clear what i needed to do and when i made the decision i had tremendous peace.

adam and i have a lot going on. duh. and it's important for us to pour our energy into our marriage, family and community. we needed our schedule to be freed up to pursue time with each other and friends. and already we've been able to do that. i also still get to be in high school girls' lives. i'm having lunch with a handful of senior girls every other week and will still hang out with the girls from camp and lead the junior girls' bible study on monday mornings. i also still stay in touch with the girls who've graduated and are now freshmen and sophomores at school. i am so thankful to still get to do what i think God called me to do high school girls and share my life with them. it's what Jesus did (not strictly with high school girls, obviously). YL is just a tool, a great one.

our cabin from frontier 2009

ccds group at frontier this summer

i am looking forward to this new season for us. to have more time for each other. to have the freedom to go to the school when i can. to keep pursuing the established relationships i have with girls. to build friendships with the girls who are now in college. and to pray for what God is continuing to do (without me. surprise) at Country Day.

Monday, October 3, 2011

the pink cancer fairy

i have no idea what comes over me on the day of the Race for the Cure but it's something for sure. i think it's God's way of helping me enjoy life. it's His way of allowing me to be who He made me to be in all my pink (and maybe even obnoxious) glory. but, it's a day that i get to be with so many people i love and who love me, who wake up extra early to don something pink with their "team patwa" t-shirt and walk 3 miles with me. i love it all. i love being surrounded by these people. i love getting to be a part of a bigger community of survivors and their loved ones. i love getting to wear a pink wig, fairy wings, knee high socks and fishnets.

me and & team captain

my friend (& old yl girl) leah
this was my 2nd year doing the race as a survivor. and sometimes it's weird that the reason the event even happens is because of and for woman like me. women whose lives have been turned upside down with a cancer diagnosis. i'm one of those women, and i still can't believe it.

me and my mom...a survivor herself of 13 years

most of the time i am so thankful for where God has me. i know that may sound crazy. and i'm not being all "religious" by saying the "right" thing while feeling something different. look, i'll be honest when i say that sometimes our life is really hard and it can totally suck. now that alone is enough for me to pull the covers over my head and never emerge. AND, lately the verse (and sundsay school song) that plays in my head is, "This is the day the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it." we have so much to be thankful for. so much. and although there is a lot of uncertainty we know that God is faithful and good. life might feel unfair, but He isn't. life might feel crazy and chaotic, but He is not. people may disappoint, but He does not. for me, it's living in the AND...the tension of the good & bad, joy & pain. i can't ignore what's hard or scary, but I can take those to Jesus. it's where i find comfort and strength for each day. i think God made me for this trial. as crazy as that sounds. i believe it. and i believe that He is using this to draw me closer to Him, to reveal Himself to others, to grow and deepen my marriage, to bring me sweet and joyful moments with Charis, to change me and maybe those around me.

the girls from West Charlotte:

wc girls mk,jessamy,sal,me,julie,lindsay,kristin

my bf chaille

my sweet friends hannah & taryn

if i could go around charlotte in my pink wig and fishnets i totally would. and i might. because i have cancer. although i can't really do whatever i want, i do have more liberties to do something crazy. right?! i mean, who's going to say something to me?! oh sassy. i think that's why i loved the outfit so much. oh and i also got to have a piece with DeAngelo Williams and some topcats that was pretty amazing. let's just say it involved me "flying in" then doing a sort of mary katherine gallagher pose then "flying out." i think it was pretty life-changing for those who witnessed it. :) oh goodness.

a little glimpse at the action

so, here is to another year. i am thankful for my family and friends that are a part of "team patwa" on the day of and in spirit. i guess i'd rather us not have to do it, but we do, so let's do it right! i hope we'll be back next year as a team and i hope to be cancer free then.

these two make it all worth fighting for!!